There’s more

We simply don’t know the explanation (re where were the other 380) as to why there were 120 people in the upper room, yet Jesus, after His resurrection, appeared to ‘more than 500 of the brothers at the same time’.  Therefore, the explanation is not important – else we would have been told – there are many cases like this one, in Scripture. It’s important not to let the imagination of commentators (I’m not referring to Selwyn when I say this) lead us to unspiritual conclusions.

I do agree with Selwyn when he says: “… God offers to all those who know His Son not only the joy of a ‘new birth’ but the thrill of a mighty baptism in the Spirit.”

I think one of the main reason why the Church has so many problems is because many people in the Church may know about Christ but few have His Spirit within them. What’s your view?

Don’t fight – surrender

I think that there is another aspect to our struggle with sin which, I feel, should be brought more to the surface.

In one sense, I agree with Selwyn that we should not rely on our abilities to fight our passions. It’s vital that we seek God’s power to deal successfully with these issues. As Selwyn says: “When you no longer fight your passions but surrender them to God then your attention is drawn from them to Him. You are focusing on Him – not your ‘smoldering sexuality’.”

However, while we should surrender our being to God so that He can deal with thoughts or habits which are not pleasing to Him – we can do some things to help. If there are certain environments which may be more dangerous than others – for example, if it’s our practice to go out drinking every Friday night – and, as the night proceeds our blood alcohol goes up and our defences drop and seduction says ‘Hi’. Your smoldering sexuality’ can quickly turn into a raging fire when alcohol is thrown into the mix. An initial first step, could be to drop the habit of going out on a Friday night – break the routine – do something else; if this step is covered in prayer – I think you could be amazed at how successful this type of simple strategy can be.

A good saying that has stood the test of time for me, is ‘God will steer you once you start moving’, a ship’s rudder does not do a lot while the ship is tired up at a wharf.

What’s your view on this difficult issue?

The open road

This is one great study – it’s one that should be read a few times, with prayer, so that the central message takes root in your heart and mind.

Selwyn is addressing how we might manage our sexual desires; and covers the type of advice he used to give to people many years ago – which, were basically ways to distract our attention away from sexual issues.

He goes onto say: ‘I have now come to see that although these ideas may make good sense, in reality they are only the fences along the side of an open road – and that open road is the experience of the passion and love of Jesus Christ moving in one’s soul. We can expel a desire only by a higher and stronger desire. The fire of God’s love burning in our hearts is the only fire that can engulf and extinguish all other fires (including the fires of sexual sin). None of the boundaries we build in our lives can save us unless the fire of God is at work within us.”   

It’s our love for God and each other (a love empowered by the Holy Spirit) that supports us, on our journey of following Christ – and, our soul will rejoice in doing what is right because it is the only way we can express our love – it’s how, we demonstrate that we are His children, and not children of another master.

This is one great study – because it encapsulates the core message on how we should live. Do you agree?

The ‘rabble’ – redeemed

The best part of today’s study, for me – is the text, set for reading and meditation (John 6:60-71, NIV):

“On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”  Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.  Yet there are some of you who do not believe.”

For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.”

From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. 

“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”  Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)”

I think it’s important to be aware that there are some people who won’t even believe Jesus when He talks about spiritual matters. It’s also worth meditating on the fact that at this time, ‘many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him’; yet, Jesus did not change His message to make it more appealing to the masses, so that the many former disciples would turn back to Him.

Many will hear His message but sadly, many of these people will also turn away and follow their own desires!

The answer to fire – is fire

I agree with Selwyn when he says: “All the major religions of the world have had their share of fanatics who, by their burning passion, are driven to extreme acts of violence. That fire within them is a terrible, destructive fire.”  Those who try to justify their violence by claiming that God is on their side – will have to verify their claim in front of a perfect judge. I feel that not many of them will fit the mould of prophets like Elijah!

Selwyn finishes with a hopeful conclusion: “What is the answer to all of this (the many baneful fies burning in our world)? How can these fires which roar out of hell be engulfed and brought under control? The answer is Pentecost. We have hinted at this before, but now we will explore the matter in much greater detail.”

It’s important to be assured that God is in control; and, although the fires of hell may be fierce, they never destroy the hope of the children of God. Do you agree?

‘Stalin’ or the Saviour?

There are three areas which I thought were of interest.

First and foremost, are the verses set for reading and meditation (Acts 4:1-12, NIV), note the highlighted verses: “The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand.

The next day the rulers, elders and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and the other men of the high priest’s family. They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?”

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is ” ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone’. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

Expressed in a slightly different way: God, speaking through Peter, clearly tells the world that salvation can only be found in Jesus. If we believe Scripture then we must believe that salvation is found in no one else; for there is no other name given to men and women by which we MUST BE SAVED. Yet, there are some, who call themselves Christians, but who refuse to believe what these verses are clearly saying!

The second area is where Selwyn identifies what was the main issue with Stalin’s form of communism. He says: ‘Someone once described communism as the “devil’s twentieth-century missionary movement compounded of ruthlessness and rapture”. What makes a philosophy like this dangerous is not its ideology, but the fanatical fire that burns in the hearts of its advocates.’ In a similar fashion, some brands of ‘democracy’, can be just as destructive as Stalin’s communism.

The third area – is the prayer for today; it helps to remind ourselves that we belong to Jesus and nothing can separate us from His love.  Selwyn’s prayer: “O God, we are passing through a turbulent time in history. Help me to see that I belong to Your kingdom ‘for such a time as this’. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

Wild fanaticism

Selwyn now looks at the destructive fire of fanaticism.

I thought the quote (of the reformed fanatic) was of interest, in regard to how easy, it appears to be – to lead a double life. “He said that he used to go back home (after planting bombs) and watch reports of the incidents on the television news, and he commented, ‘I was so caught up in fanaticism and over-zealousness that I could sit and watch the news with my mother, who knew nothing of my involvement, and I would sit there just as if I was another person.

I imagine that to a certain extent those who are involved in terrorism don’t associate their own humanity (especially love), with the human pain and anguish that follows in the wake of their terrorist activities. Their ’cause’ justifies the use of terror, not only against their stated enemies but also innocent bystanders (some of their victims may even share the same fanatical views).

I agree with Selwyn’s conclusion: “Such is the power of fanaticism – a devastating, destructive fire. It sears and scars the soul, and blinds it to all that is right and good and virtuous. There is fire in fanaticism, you see, terrible, destructive fire.”